The founding fathers of the United States considered the rights of Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness to be inherent and inalienable, and although rights have a moral basis, they are upheld through the law; however, this protection of rights does not extend to non-human animals. Since the 1970s a debate has arisen about whether animals have moral rights that should be recognized and protected by human society. Many people believe that the use of animals in science, research, and consumption is necessary for the survival and advancement of humankind.
While this is true, others argue that this treatment, or in this case mistreatment, of living creatures is unethical, inhumane, and selfish on the part of humans. Animals are undoubtedly a major part of our society and should be granted some protection under the law; however, the use of animals in research is vital to the advancement of science and health, and it is the duty of societies and governments to maintain such practices, but in a humane way.
Animals play a key role in all societies and while being for the advancement of humankind, they should be granted some form of protection and rights. It is indeed a fact that animals have some rights, but are these rights enough to protect them from the exploitation and mistreatment that they endure.
Most of the public agree that animals should be treated humanely and not subjected to unnecessary suffering. Most of the public is also ignorant to what type of treatment animals actually endure.
According to a comprehensive public opinion poll conducted in 2015 by the Gallup Organization on the subject of animal rights issues, 32% of those asked believed animals deserve the same rights as people, a large majority (62%) said animals deserve some protection but can still be used to benefit people, and only a small percentage (3%) said animals do not need much protection from harm and exploitation. As mentioned previously, giving animals equal rights as humans would mean outlawing the use of animals in the food, clothing, makeup, and many other less obvious industries.
The economic impact as a result of the changes to these industries would be no less than detrimental. An alternative legal status for animals in which they would no longer be regarded as the property of humans would most likely entail dramatic economic and social consequences, given that our economy is heavily dependent on the level of animal exploitation protected by the law (Francione). Some companies have substituted fabrics made from animals for cruelty-free plant fabrics such as cotton, linen, or hemp, or imitations of fur, leather, feathers, etc. Although there can be loopholes in the system and there is still work to be done, this is a great step.
The advancements that have been made to modern science and medicine are primarily founded upon animal research. “Practically every drug, treatment, medical device, diagnostic tool or cure we have today was developed with the help of lab animals,” (Foundation for Biomedical Research). Almost everyone with access to modern western medicine has benefitted from the use of animals in research. To understand how a disease works in the body, scientists study the disease in animals. Animal research gives those scientists the knowledge they need to discover and create treatments to help both people and animals living with illnesses (Foundation for Biomedical Research). Practically all advancements made through biomedical research benefit both humans and nonhuman animals, helping them live longer, healthier lives.
It is a rare occurrence to find someone who does not enthusiastically embrace the principle that we should treat animals “humanely.” Yet, most of these people do not put much thought into how extreme an effect such implementations of animal rights would have on almost all aspects of our society. The foundation of the animal rights debate is built on the belief that it is not acceptable to use animals for any human purpose at all, and that animals have moral rights to life, liberty, and other privileges that should be upheld by society and the rule of law. If this were the case, almost every aspect of our daily lives would change. Majority of our population would undergo major dietary alterations as every meat, fish, and dairy product and byproduct would be barred from human consumption. This would prove not only to be inconvenient but unhealthy considering the importance of at least one of these products to the diets of most humans. However, if you stop to look around, you will notice just how reliant upon animals we all are, and how much our lives would be affected if humans were restricted from animals.
The food industry would be most impacted. It is one thing to raise animals for food, as seen in modern industrialized farms because it is for the fulfillment of a need. However, it is another thing to exploit the suffering of animals for nothing more than mere human amusement. Under these conditions, I believe that it is our job as a society to call upon the government to restrict and regulate the abuse and unnecessary suffering of animals in the mass-production industries, and several others agree. Taking into consideration the extensive role animals play in virtually all parts of our society, economy, and research industry, it is not of the benefit of us or other animals to prohibit the consumption of animals, but rather regulate it so that all parties are able to profit from this relationship.